Government to ensure better deal for used car buyers

Proposals to tackle problems within the used car industry and give consumers greater protection have been backed by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson.

The Used Car Commission, launched by the Minister last November has explored problems reported by consumers about the sector. Whilst the Commission found that the industry generally works well for consumers, it has identified some areas for improvement and in response, the Minister has called on the Commission to take forward its proposals to get motorists a better deal.

The Commission will now implement proposals including:

  • Closer cooperation between the police and Trading Standards to target organised criminals who steal vehicles for export, clone them or break them up for parts.
  • The development of a minimum set of requirements for used car codes and trader approval schemes to ensure consumers are better protected and improve customer services.
  • A focus on information gathering on used cars so current and emerging issues can be quickly identified and acted on by police forces and Trading Standards.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson commented: “Whilst the majority of second-hand car buyers will have a trouble free experience, too many consumers are left with unresolved issues or thousands of pounds out of pocket. It is estimated that 750,000 consumers a year face unresolved problems with a used car purchase, so it is clear why the Commission’s work is so important. The recommendations are an excellent starting point and it is good to see the sector working together to get the best possible outcomes for consumers.”

The Trading Standards Institute’s chief executive Leon Livermore said: “The Used Car Commission identified the need to improve the landscape for buyers of second hand cars and honest businesses, and put forward a number of recommendations to this end to the Consumer Affairs Minister. We are pleased to see the Minister shares our vision and we look forward to meeting with her officials to agree on how we take these recommendations forward.”

They added that an estimated 210,000 vehicles sold per year have a major fault and stated that dealers can be unhelpful in resolving the problem. In addition, some 18,000 ‘clocked’ vehicles are thought to be sold each year. Clocking is the illegal practice where miles are taken off the odometer so that it looks as though a car has been driven far fewer miles than it has in reality, which can add hundreds of pounds to the value.

Complaints about second-hand cars are one of the biggest issues taken to the Citizens Advice consumer service. From April 2013 to March 2014, Citizens Advice dealt with 69,342 enquiries relating to second hand cars. Launched during National Consumer Week 2013, the Commission brought together the expertise of representatives from consumer groups, motoring organisations, regulators and the industry trade association. The UK’s used car sector is valued at a staggering £38 billion with 7.1 million vehicles being sold per year.

The WMS Group are proud members of Motor Codes’ Vehicle Warranty Products code. Motor Codes are the government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry, operating with the full support of the Trading Standards Institute. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist our policy holders but on the rare occasion we are unable to help, customers can use Motor Codes’ free arbitration system. To find out more, click here.